Tag Archives: Cross

A Holy Week reflection

Holy Week.
Why are we here
In this holy space,
Watching as Jesus prepares for death?

Jesus engaging with his Father;
Jesus engaging with his disciples;
Jesus preparing himself for what is to come.
(Jesus, how do you prepare for such a thing?
The intense agony in the garden;
The anticipation of the cross?)

But what am I doing here,
Looking on, asking questions?
I’m trying to understand,
Eager to penetrate this holy drama.
But, how dare I trample here?
How dare I babble in this holy silence?

Holy Week —a holy space;
A time for awe and wonder
Not for noise and chatter.
Jesus asks his disciples:
‘Wait with me.
Watch and pray.’

Hush, child, be still.
Come quietly into this holy space;
Watch and pray.

The time for participation and celebration will come.
The time for action and proclamation will soon be here.
Love and life will emerge from this drama.
But not yet
Not now.

Wait with me;
watch and pray.


Filed under Easter, Lent, Prayers and Meditations

A Ladder or a Cross: a Prayer at Jesus’ Feet

(A prayer used with the previous post, Tears, Grace and an Alabaster Jar)

Failure, sinner, used, unloved, rejected, despised.
The world has high standards and rejects those who don’t measure up.
We feel the weight of failure and rejection every day:
The weight of those above us on the ladder of success and acceptance.
We are glad to find someone below us we can look down on;
It comforts us to know we are not the lowest in the pile.
We pass on the rejection we feel, the lack of love, and the labels we are given.
We are as pitiless as those who despise us.

But you, Lord, have no use for society’s ladders and false standards.
You have only one standard; the capacity to love, and one “ladder”, a cross.
Our ladders are made from the bodies of those we tread upon.
You offered yourself as a ladder for others;
You laid down your life and took up your cross.

Lord, we can only love when we know we are loved;
We can only give the love we have received.
Help us see deep into our souls just how much needs to be forgiven.
Help us with Mary to receive your abundant, extravagant love;
Love that forgives and heals and cancels all debt.
Give us your love that lays down its life and takes up its cross,
So that “failure”, and “unloved”, and “despised” are banished from our lives and our language forever.



Filed under Meditation & Prayer

Utoya and Me: The Atmosphere I Create

The images and the terror of the Utoya killing in Norway, continue to haunt.

The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, apparently portrayed himself as a “modern knight, charged with driving out Islam and immigrants and the political correctness that he said had been wrongly invited into Norway and was thriving there.”  New York Times

One of the survivors of the island massacre was Khamshajiny Gunaratnam (23), a leader among the campers.  She was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Norway when she was three.  She is dark-skinned and speaks both Norwegian and English fluentlyAccording to the New York Times “She described a Norway that was increasingly divided along class and ethnic lines, and said there was a growing hostility toward people who were not ethnically Norwegian, even those born in the country.”  Sounds rather like South Africa, doesn’t it?

Do we encourage such hostility?  Oh, I’m not trying to lay blame for the horror of Utoya, or suggesting that our prejudices cause such atrocities.  But perhaps we help create the atmosphere in which a monster like Anders Breivik is nurtured or at least from which such a monster takes encouragement.  An outrage like Utoya perhaps presents an opportunity to take stock.

There is a huge amount of negativity and even bare-faced hatred that swirls around the Internet and in emails, often in the name of Christianity.  If we pass it on, where does it go?  What effect does it have?  Does our gossip and joke-telling encourage the hardening of divisions rather than the breaking down of barriers?

Many Christians are angry with the way Muslims seem to have the edge in so many things.  Muslims seem to be taken far more seriously than their numbers (in South Africa certainly) would warrant.  And, of course, the aggressive actions of Islam’s fundamentalist adherents are in our faces on an almost daily basis.  We think we should take back the ground we have lost.

Some Christians take this further and seem to be saying, “It’s all very well for the meek to inherit the earth, but we’ve first got to get rid of these arrogant, aggressive types that are stopping the meek inheriting the earth.”

We certainly do have a message to preach and a gift to give the world, including the Muslim world.  But the message is not, “We are superior to you”, or “You have no rights in ‘our’ country.”  And, most important, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ has been specifically forbidden by Jesus.  So the Muslim attitude towards Christians in Islamic countries has no bearing on what we do in ‘our’ country, according to Jesus. 

Our message is not one of hate, destruction or revenge.  Our message is that God loves the world so much that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him will not die but will have eternal life (John 3:16).  And Jesus made it clear that this is not a message that can simply be preached; it must be demonstrated in the way we live and interact and, yes, even in the way we die.  Our weapon is a book and our method is a cross—not, it should be noted, something on which to hang our enemies, but for us.  Are we truly willing to follow Jesus?

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Filed under Community, The News